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July 19, 2013

Art Melt 2013 features photograph by ULM communications professor

Art Melt 2013, the largest multi-media juried art exhibition in Louisiana, will feature a photograph taken by Dr. Bette Kauffman, University of Louisiana at Monroe professor of communications.

Kauffman was one of 60 artists selected out of 619 applicants for this exhibit.

The exhibit opens to the public on July 20, from 5 – 11 p.m., at the Capital Park Museum in Baton Rouge and will remain open for six weeks.

"The subject of the accepted photograph is an irrigation unit sitting in a field on a foggy morning," said Kauffman. "I call it 'Delta Dragon' because it indeed looks a bit like a dragon with a long tail disappearing into the fog. They are so common in the Delta."

Her photograph comes from a new series exploring Louisiana agriculture.

Though Kauffman photographs many things, she said, "I grew up on a farm in Iowa and am intrigued by how Louisiana agriculture is similar to but also different from agriculture in Iowa."

While she uses photography as a way to engage with the world around her, Kauffman advises her students, "Work hard and take responsibility for your own education. The best teachers in the world cannot 'give' you an education. You must be a fully engaged partner in the process."

Though she has received recognition for her photography before, "This accomplishment stands tallest," she said.

Kauffman has been recognized for her 2006 work, "Waterline," an interactive exhibit of post-Katrina photography.

She has taught at ULM for 16 years.

Her favorite place on campus is her own office, "because it is filled with items I enjoy having around: a number of my framed photographs on the wall, records of accomplishments like my diplomas, my antique camera collection, and mementos students have given me."

For Kauffman, the secret to photography – and the quality she enjoys most – is tied to teaching. Both are attempts at meaningful communication.

Photography requires "seeing beauty and meaning in everyday things like an irrigation unit, then figuring out how to photograph it so that others can see the beauty and meaning as well."

Kauffman earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Iowa in 1980, and a Master of Arts in Communications in 1982 and a Ph.D. in Communications in 1992 from the University of Pennsylvania.

She grew up in Kalona, Iowa.

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